Don’t tell me, show me.
This was one of my mantras as a journalist. If you want to convince me you’re right, don’t argue with me. Give me details. Give me proof. Something I can’t refute.
Not all news stories are that cut and dried, of course. But that’s no excuse to play loose with facts.
Case in point: I’ve heard people say that Islam is a peaceful religion. I’ve heard others say it promotes violence and terrorism. Neither side, that I’ve seen, has bothered with details. They point to people touting their viewpoint or incidents of peace or violence that “prove” they are right.
So, I will push the envelope: are Islam and Christianity compatible? A professor at evangelical Wheaton College outside Chicago raised the issue a month ago by saying both religions worship the same God.
But neither the professor nor the college explicitly answered the question. Indeed, in a statement, Wheaton College included this sentence:
“Some recent faculty statements have generated confusion about complex theological matters, and could be interpreted as failing to reflect the distinctively Christian theological identity of Wheaton College.”
Oh, please. Political correctness has even infiltrated an evangelical Christian institution to the point that it didn’t say what its “distinctively Christian theological identity” is. (Perhaps they assume everyone knows.)
What to do? The research is not complicated, actually, if anyone would bother to do it. Islam and Christianity each has a sacred book that defines their belief systems. Do those books say anything about each other, or about compatibility of other religions?
I read the Christian Bible often, so I have a good understanding of what its views are on this issue. More on that in a moment.
But first, I found the Qur’an, the Islamic holy book, online, and perused it.
To make sure, I stopped at Barnes & Noble and bought my own copy of the Qur’an (does that put me on Homeland Security’s watch list?).
The Qur’an is divided into 114 “suras,” or chapters, each with a title. Each chapter is divided into verses, as the Christian Bible is. Some chapters are short, some are long; most of the long ones are in the beginning of the Qur’an, and the shorter suras are toward the end. They are revelations to the prophet Muhammad over a period of 23 years beginning around or after 610 AD.
I found several passages in the Qur’an that talk about people of other faiths, including Christians and Christ. Here are excerpts:
Sera 9: Repentance
The Jews call Uzair (Ezra) a son of God, and the Christians call Christ the Son of God. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. God’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!
They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of God, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One God (God); there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).
Willingly would they extinguish God’s Light with their mouths, but God will not allow but that His Light should be perfected, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it). It is He Who has sent His Messenger with Guidance and the Religion of Truth, to proclaim it over all religion, even though the Pagans may detest (it). (v. 30-33)
Sura 19: Mary
At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: “O Mary! Truly an amazing thing you have brought! O sister of Aaron! Your father was not a man of evil, nor your mother an unchaste woman!”
But she pointed to the babe. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?”
He said: “I am indeed a servant of God: He has given me Revelation and made me a Prophet. And He has made me blessed wheresoever I be; and has enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live. (He) has made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable; so peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!”
Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary; (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute. It is not befitting to (the majesty of) God that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is. (v. 27-35)
That they should invoke a son for (God) Most Gracious. For it is not consonant with the majesty of (God) Most Gracious that He should beget a son. Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (God) Most Gracious as a servant. He takes an account of them (all), and has numbered them (all) exactly. And every one of them will come to Him singly on the Day of Judgment.
On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, (God) Most Gracious will bestow love. So We have made the (Qur’an) easy in your own tongue, that with it you may give glad tidings to the righteous, and warnings to people given to contention. But how many (countless) generations before them We have destroyed? Can you find a single one of them (now) or hear (so much as) a whisper of them? (v. 91-98)
Sura 47: Muhammad
Those who reject God and hinder (men) from the Path of God – God will render their deeds astray (from their mark). But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and believe in the (Revelation) sent down to Muhammad – for it is the Truth from their Lord – He will remove from them their ills and improve their condition.
This is because those who reject God follow vanities, while those who believe follow the Truth from their Lord; thus God sets forth for men their lessons by similitudes.
Therefore, when you meet the Unbelievers (in fight), strike at their necks; at length, when you have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them); thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom; until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are you commanded): but if it had been God’s Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the way of God, He will never let their deeds be lost. (v. 1-4)
The Christian Bible has some things to say along these lines as well. For example:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being … And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-3, 14)
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:5-7)
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11)
The Wheaton College professor who claims Muslims and Christians worship the same God obviously has read neither the Qur’an nor the Bible. The Qur’an in several places calls Christians “Unbelievers,” and the Bible says knowing Jesus Christ personally is the only way to meet God.
I have not read the entire Qur’an; I’m sure I’m missing something. If I am, don’t tell me. Show me.
Prove your point.